Interview: Graham McTavish Talks All Things ‘Preacher’June 23, 2017
Recently, we had a chance to talk with actor Graham McTavish who discussed his character The Saint of Killers as AMC prepares to launch season two of Preacher.
So what was your reaction when you first read the script for Preacher?
Graham: Oh well, listen, I was a huge fan of the books so I knew the source material very well indeed and when I first heard about Preacher being made, it must have been three or four years ago now, there were talks that this was going on, my first thought was that is something I really want to be a part of, and The Saint of Killers just happened to be my favorite character so it was great. It was also an awesome responsibility as well, you know as a fan and I know Seth and Evan are huge fans, that being true to the fandom and taking seriously that responsibility of the source material, you know I’ve had that experience with Outlander, had it with The Hobbit and now I’ve got it with this. You know I do take that seriously, I want to honor what Garth and Steve created and stay as true to that as possible, given the restraints of television.
That’s a good point, the pressure that comes with roles like this, especially from the fandom. Do you ever worry about that?
Graham: I don’t worry about it exactly, I’m just mindful of it. You know, there are things that The Saint just shouldn’t be allowed to do, shouldn’t talk about or experience so they’re very careful about that. At the same time, you’re exploring these characters through a different medium and you need to be able to give yourself breathing space to explore other aspects of them, more of the backstory, potential for relationships between many of the characters as they interact, as the show goes forward, even in season two that starts to happen with me. So I welcome all of those opportunities and at the same time remember that this is a lot of peoples favorite character in the story so we needed to be true to the look of him, his attitude and all of that kind of stuff.
The character definitely falls into the strong and silent type category, that’s for sure. As an actor, how hard is it to do the scenes with so little dialogue?
Graham: Yeah, it’s interesting, a very interesting challenge. The constraints that are placed upon him, not just in scenes that he’s in but scenes that he’s not in, which are equally important, really, the scenes where they hold him back. I mean, if you had this character popping up in every other scene it would lessen his power and in the same way when you think back to the shark in Jaws, the creature in Alien, many of these kind of archetypal, iconic, scary things you need to keep it back as much as you allow it to be seen. So with The Saint, when you are seeing him, you don’t want him to become this loquacious chatterbox, his silence and his stillness have an elegance of its own and it’s a stark contrast to the action from the characters around him, that’s what makes it dramatic and interesting. It’s an interesting discipline as an actor, to understand and explore the power of simply being in a scene that has its own force, it speaks volumes, it really does.
So when we left off in season one we had a preacher, a vampire and a violent criminal looking for God and we have your character, The Saint of Killers, hunting the preacher. Do you think it’s even necessary for these characters to achieve their goals or is it all about the journey?
Graham: Ah, very good question. Well it is about the journey because I think they reflect, in very extreme and hopefully entertaining ways, they reflect the journey that we’re all on, in some ways we all carry within us our own heaven and hell and in this particular case we have external manifestations. We have God and Satan and literally a place called Hell, and there’s Heaven, but really what the story is about is dealing with our internal struggles, the internal struggles of Jesse and Tulip and Cassidy and myself. I seemingly am more extreme but really, there’s not much difference, especially as the story progresses, you see that in some of the things that Jesse does and some of the things The Saint does and so yeah, it is the journey, all of our journeys, but in this case there are lots of big, high stakes there and it’s funny, stylish, witty and all that good stuff, it explores universal themes.
What do you think the fans like most about Preacher?
Graham: I think partly it’s unpredictability, speaking as a fan of it, certainly when I was reading the books and every script that I read for this show, there would be at least one or two scenes in it where I would go I can’t believe they’re going to do this. It was the same when I read the books, you would turn over a page and there would be an illustration or something was happening and you would just go shit, really? That’s where they’re going with this? That’s what happens to that character? So I love the surprise of it, any fan loves the surprise of it, the sudden turns that it takes story wise. Even in the shootout at the beginning, it’s conventional in the sense that there are explosions and gunfire and all the rest of it but it’s made more interesting by the detail of that particular scene, so you’ve got Cassidy dragging a dead body to try and act as a wedge, to stop the car rolling forward so he won’t get burned by the sun, he’s got an umbrella, he’s having conversations about baby’s foreskins and female moisturizing products. The fact that the entire gun battle only takes place from their point of view, you don’t see my point of view, you know it’s not that conventional back and forth, now we’re going to see where the bad guy is, now we’re going to back to the good guy, it adds to the discomfort of the scene so I love all of those clever details, using the intestine as a siphon. Once you throw that into a conventional scene it becomes something completely different and that’s why I like it so much.
Playing a bad ass cowboy from Hell must be fun. What can we expect from your character in season two?
Graham: Well, you can look forward to a pretty massive body count, he was only getting started in season one so you have that to look forward to. You get more of his back story, you get to see more of him interacting with other characters in the show and that allows for other stuff about this character to come out and you see the sort of bizarre chess game Jesse and The Saint are playing with each other so yeah, it’s great fun.
I want to thank Graham for taking the time to talk with us
Season two of Preacher begins Sunday, June 25th at 9 pm on AMC